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Answers to Your Questions about Hurricane Insurance Claims

– Vinyl siding too. And a great point, your policies, most, every one of your policies, is a replacement cost policy. That means the insurance company, and here’s how I tell the jury. I give you my opening statement on a roof case I just did.

Insurance company issued this policy when the roof was 18 years old. And when they did that, they said on our solemn oath, we promise that we will replace that 18 year old roof if it becomes damaged in the next 12 months as long as you pay your premium. My clients paid their premium, nothing happened. Next year they renewed the policy and the insurance company said our solemn oath, if something happens to this 19 year old roof, we will replace it, not repair it, replace it as long as you pay your premium. And I walk to it. Got to 23 years old, they promise on their solemn oath if anything happens in the next 12 we’ll replace this roof.

Three months later my clients have a storm, damage, first thing they say is your roof’s too old. That doesn’t sell well to a jury. And the same thing applies to siding. Replacement costs means it. Some people feel bad, I got an old roof and now I’m gonna get a brand new one, is that even fair. Yes that’s what your premium paid for. They calculated that into your premium to say we’re gonna sell this person a replacement cost policy, meaning we’ll buy them a new.

And I’ve got clients with homes build in the, I have one in 1800s. But 1950 home, 1960 home, 1970, it’s a replacement cost. I’ve got lots of cases right now with cast iron pipe system underneath the house, has deteriorated, the insurance company promises we’ll pay it, we’ll replace it.

They have a tear out provision for plumbing and they’re fighting it cause why, it’s old. Well of course it is, you insured it, you knew that. And so for vinyl siding, it’s covered, it’s a replacement cost, and they gotta replace it and you’ve got code enhancement coverage in almost every one of these policies that say if you gotta bring it up to code, you’ve got extra coverage to do that too in your policy. Either 10, 25, sometimes 50 percent. Usually it’s 10 or 25.

If the county won’t permit it, see I don’t do permitting, but I’m pretty sure our general contractor here is gonna tell you. If the county won’t permit it, unless you replace them all and it seems like you would have to replace them all, then you do need to do that. And your policy probably has an enhanced coverage for law in ordinates. That’s the increase cost due to a change in law in ordinates. But that’s an extra coverage, you may or may not have it, you probably do but there’s a limitation to it.

But I would make a totally different argument on that. I would say the one window, you can’t replace it with what was in there.

The only windows you can get are gonna be hurricane resistant windows. So we’re gonna put a hurricane resistant window in here because that is the repair that you need to do for that opening. Guess what, matching statute. They gotta do them all, and the insurance company’s gotta pay for them all. Did they pay the total amount of the policy plus enhanced coverage, you’ve got debris removal, 5% debris removal that’s ahead of that.

You’ve got ordinates in law that’s gonna be as soon as you sign the contract with the contractor, do you have one yet, a contractor. – [Lady] I’ve talked to a couple. – Okay well you be careful. Because some contractors take what’s called an assignment to benefits and it’s an assignment of all your claim, your entire claim. It’s gone, yeah but it’s stuck in there. You look for those words, assignment of benefits. And you gotta be careful. Some are very reputable contractors and they take an assignment just for the work they actually performed. Some of them take your whole claim and they say bye this claim’s mine now. And so you gotta be careful. But so is your concern that it’s gonna be more than your policy limits. – [Lady] It’s gonna be more than my policy limits. – Yeah. Do you have, you need to look at your policy and see if there’s an inflation guard in it. Inflation guard. Make sure you get the debris removal, 5% extra, maybe 10 but probably 5, for debris removal. Law in ordinates coverage because the windows will probably be under there.

Think of these each as a bucket of money. And the bucket’s only got so much money in it. And so you’ve got coverage A for your dwelling, that’s your house. Coverage B is for fences and other structures, I don’t know if you have a shed or something, that’s for other structures.

Coverage C is for the personal property, your stuff inside the house. D is for when you’re out of the house while they’re doing the repairs. They still gotta pay you that. You just gotta be careful, make sure you maximize each one of those buckets.

And make sure they’re not dipping, they’re saying well let’s take it out of this one, this little bucket here and max out that out. Sounds like you need to max them all out. And they’re moving in the right direction, it sounds like it, if they’re already covering the coverage A limits.

But you gotta get the other coverage. That’s a great question, and in case it didn’t picked up the question is many people have public adjusters and when does the public adjusters job end and the lawyers job begin. There’s a couple different ways to approach that. If the claim is denied, if the insurance company says no.

At that point you need a lawyer. Cause the public adjuster is not gonna be able to help you with the denied claim. That’s gonna require that we go into litigation. If there is negotiating back and forth between the public adjuster and the insurance company and that seems to be progressing in the right direction, then you should let that public adjuster continue, but keep your wits about you. If it is, people have a lot of claims, so on both sides right now, the insurance companies have a lot of claims that they’re dealing with. And the public adjusters have a lot of claims that they’re dealing with.

And you just gotta be careful, I don’t know who’s who out there. I don’t know who you’ve hired. But you need to be careful that people are not splitting the baby. Cause a lot of times there’s so many claims going on out there, it’s just easier for folks to split the baby. It’s a $20,000 claim, the insurance company says well I’ll give you 5,000, and somebody says 12,500 can we just do it 12,500 cause I got more, we gotta get to the next one.

Yeah let’s do that. And then they come and explain to you and say here’s why. They might be right, they might not. I can tell you when I’m dealing with, and a lot of times people, I obviously we’re negotiating the settlement of the claim. And I tell my contractors just give me the number.

Do not give me an inflated number that you want me to then kinda negotiate down from, I don’t do that. Just give me the number. And I’m gonna stick to that number and the insurance companies know very well I don’t move. If that number, if there’s coverage, and if that number, I’m confident in that number. So don’t give me an inflated number, I don’t want it, cause I’m not negotiating. It makes life a lot easier. If it’s a $15,000 claim and I tell the insurance company its $15,000 I’m not moving.

And you gotta pay my fees and cost over and above that. They know that I’m telling the truth about that from 27 years of experience. So a long answer to your question with the key being make sure you keep your eye on the ball and make sure nobody’s sort of splitting the baby, trying to just get it done so they can get to the next one. So there’s a law in Florida that’s called the valued policy law. If your house is a total loss or a constructive total loss.

Or if it costs say more than 50% to rebuild it, it’s a total loss, they gotta pay the policy limits. But remember those buckets that I told you about. Coverage A is the dwelling, coverage B is the other structures, C is the interior. They’re gonna have to, if it’s a total loss, let’s say your stuff is destroyed they need to pay for it.